Professors at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte are encouraging people with obesity to flaunt their fatness with revealing pictures on Instagram because it promotes “fat acceptance.”
Following a peer-reviewed study conducted at the college, a group of professors are arguing that fatness is both “fashionable and fit.”
The academic paper, published by Jennifer B. Webb, found that individuals who take pride in being overweight and flaunt it on social media can promote the dangerous health trend as something positive in the on-going fight to redefine the “culturally normative standards of beauty.”
Webb argues that as a platform, Instagram is a key place to study the growing fat acceptance movement because it is home to “fatosphere” bloggers who use the platform to cope with “anti-fat bias,” Campus Reform reported Monday.
The professor claims that the “fatosphere” bloggers “resist the dominance of the thin ideal” by posting revealing pictures of themselves in skin-tight or skimpy clothing that flaunt their obesity as fashionable and sexy qualities.
The study reviewed 250 images posted under the #HealthAtEverySize hashtag and another 250 under #Fatspiration. Webb found that 55.5 percent of the photos promoted on the latter tag positively promoted fat acceptance, while 30 percent of the photos posted in #HealthAtEverySize promoted fat acceptance. Other photos posted in the hashtag did not explicitly promote the fat acceptance movement.
Webb told Campus Reform that fat people could take pride in their unhealthy appearance by taking selfies and posting them on Instagram. She claimed that the movement was important because “weight bias and internalized weight bias are linked to adverse health outcomes for higher weight individuals”—a term the professor used to describe those suffering from obesity.
She claims that the negative psychological effects of fat shaming cause obese individuals to eat more instead of attempting to lose weight. Despite Webb’s claims, it’s worth noting that many of the individuals who partake in the fat acceptance movement advocate unhealthy diets and “thin shame” those who do not share their views.
The American Heart Association says that obese individuals have a much higher risk for suffering health problems including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and a host of other illnesses.
Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.